You know how some restaurants seem to have an aura of awesomeness surrounding them, making you slightly fascinated with the idea of dining there, and then everyone who’s ever eaten there has had fabulous meals makes, making it seem like it’s the culinary Narnia. Yes, that for me was Masala Library, a 4 month old restaurant who has dazzled the dining community in Mumbai, converting many fans and even grudgingly earning the respect of the not so greatly satisfied. Masala Library is what is best described as a contemporary Indian dining restaurant where it takes traditional dishes and gives them it’s own signature twist. They use a lot of molecular gastronomy techniques while cooking and presenting which I think is a great initiative to try and be different and bring something new to the table.
K loves Indian food and who better to accompany me for my maiden meal at this restaurant I’ve heard so much about. Incidentally I was here once for a private party and got a peek at some of their starters which made me want to come back all the more. The restaurant is located in BKC and is quite tastfully done. None of those Indian – esque designs or big elephants in a corner or Thali’s to eat from. In fact till you really look at the menu you can’t be a sure it’s an Indian restaurant which I greatly appreciate. It’s almost as if they decided to let the decor stay simple and let the food shine so when you leave the restaurant that’s all you’re talking about.
There is a lot on their menu and we’re quite clueless so we just opt for one of their tasting menus which means they bring you a little of everything to sample. Be warned, this is a long review and we certainly took our time eating our way through it.
There is nothing more satisfying than well made bread, so their adorable mini bun maska is a real treat. I just wish they served more than just one.
I love it when a restaurant serves you an Amuse Bouche. I always feel extremely posh and think it’s a great way to get the diner excited before a meal. The amuse bouche at Masala Library is this spherical papdi chaat with a little sev and biscuit and is meant to be thrown back like a shot. When it’s served to you, you can’t quite make out what it is and eye it with great skepticism but the flavours are all there and it’s fun.
Sev Puri on the go is an adorable adaptation of the classic sev puri served on a colourful little cycle rikshaw. A lot of people don’t care much for this one because the puri they use is different, not the traditional ones we eat so it throws you off a bit but I think its great. It isn’t meant to be the exact same dish they are all versions of the classic dish.
I’m served a mushroom chai which come in a teacup and is their version of a thin broth like mushroom soup with powdered truffles, some truffle oil and dehydrated mushrooms which all spring to life once mixed with some hot water from the accompanying kettle. It’s not a thick soup but it’s so flavourful and I think one of the best items on their menu. I don’t think this is everyone’s cup of tea no pun intended because it really looks like tea and most people’s idea of soup is thick with lots of ingredients in it but I loved this one.
I had a very interesting dish of curry leaf pepper prawns with thayir sadam and spicy banana chips served on a lovely slab of mother of pearl on a wooden circular block. The prawns are spicy and nicely off set with the coolness from the sadam and the banana chips add a nice crunch to it. Very different elements but I think they work well together.
The pesto kebab with tandoori tomato and Parmesan papad is another favorite I’ve eaten before. I can’t seem to get the tomato but the pesto flavoured kebab with a tiny shaving of Parmesan cheese on top which is crispy and papad like is delicious. It’s something I’d happily come again for along with the mushroom chai.
Their version of a vada pav is served inside out where instead of the vada and chutney being inside the bread, everything is inside the vada itself ! I do not know how they make this but let me tell you it is exactly like biting into a vada pav and its delicious. It’s also something I would never see on any posh menu so this is a nice change.
Braised mutton with maple and kokum sounds like a ridiculous combination but it’s probably some of the best mutton I’ve had in a while. Each flavour is distinctly noticed and even though its slightly messy eating it with your hands, It actually heightens the experience. It’s another dish I enjoyed and something very different to what I was expecting.
We’re informed at this point that our starters are over and we’re to proceed onto our main course. I’m slightly surprised because we’ve already eaten quite a bit and i’m starting to get full. But since this is a tasting menu we’ve opted for, its only right to take a breather and do justice to it.
To cleanse our palate we’re given the most adorable mishti doi lollypops and I think they can add this to their dessert list if they haven’t already.
One of the dishes is a mixture of papad ki sabzi, bhindi jaipuri and churma. The sabzi and bhindi is enjoyable but I’ve never really been a churma fan.
The laal maas is served in a tagine and looks rather grand so for a minute I thought that’s how they cooked it. However it’s just used for the presentation. I am yet to taste a laal maas I will enjoy and this sadly wasn’t it. I’ve never been a fan of the flavours so it would be wrong to say the dish wasn’t great it’s just not something I will ever enjoy.
The prawn chettinad is tasty but a more contemporary version of the dish. The winners in the main course were the prawn or then the egg burji kulcha. I think I enjoyed those the most.
Though the entire menu has lots of good dishes I think one of Masala Library’s strong points are their desserts. It’s interesting because while most Indian restaurants don’t really pay attention to their dessert menu and have the usual suspects like gulab jamun, jalabe, one random ice cream in the standard flavours or rasmalai. Masala Library has created an extensive dessert menu with their take on some classic dishes and each one is delicious.
The jalabi caviar with saffron glaze and pistachio rabri might be my favourite yet. The jalebi is made into tiny caviar like balls and served with ample delicious rabri. Its the same flavours you grew up with, and so much more.
Ghewar cheesecake, almond chikki and pistachio dust is a close second in line for dessert of the day. Lord have mercy if you’re eating this dish because it’s heavy, decadant and sinfully delicious. It’s impossible to finish all by yourself and even the two of us struggled to do it justice.
K and I are indeed lucky because to our surprise and sheer delight, the Chef presented one of his new desserts that he wanted feedback for as it was to be added to the menu. I imagine it must be on the list now and it was a dessert with carrot cake and a whole bunch of goodness I just can’t remember now but it was a lovely treat:)
If I have to sum up my experience at ML I’d have to honestly say it’s the most fun I’ve had eating. We enjoyed their starters and desserts more than the main course but then again there are some 10 or more dishes in the mains so it’s hard to say without sampling all. I had some stand out dishes which have become quite memorable and for a restaurant to do that, it wins in my book. Will I come back and have the entire lavish tasting menu again? Probably not since I’ve tasted half the menu through this! ( though I would recommend it if you don’t want to hassle your self with ordering or are going for the first time) Will I come back to ML ? Absolutely!